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Travelling alone to Europe

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Apr 7th, 2015, 11:00 PM
  #1
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Travelling alone to Europe

Hi,

I'm planning on taking a trip to Europe from Argentina for my 21st birthday. I have travelled alone beofre but only to places near my country and for short periods of time. I would like to spend 17-22 days there and visit England, Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Greece, and if possible, also Belgium, Netherlands and Czech Republic. I'm a bit scared of going alone so I was thinking of a tour.. Contiki tours ( http://www.contiki.com/destinations/europe/tours ) seemed a great idea but I have read some disappointing reviews on here. Do you have any recommendation for me? I need a place where I don't have to pay the full price of the trip right away since my credit card limit isn't enough and there's no way my bank is going to increase my line of credit that much. For example this Contiki page has something called 'Contiki easy pay' which is a program that lets you spread your payments over time and that's exactly what I need.. Does someone know if other companies have something similar?

Thanks in advance!
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Apr 7th, 2015, 11:56 PM
  #2
 
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10 places between Scotland and Athens in 3 weeks, obviously not all along the direct itinerary. May be you tell us how you plan to dot that, with or without Contiki Tours.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 12:21 AM
  #3
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I know, that's why I'm not sure about Belgium, Netherlands and Czech Republic... if I have more time I'll go, if not I know I can travel there some other time but still, I'd like to get a recommendation. I think three weeks is enough to visit the capital cities / main attractions of the 7 countries I first mentioned, I just need to know if there's some company that won't requiere me to pay the full price of the trip at once. Thanks!
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Apr 8th, 2015, 12:33 AM
  #4
kja
 
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I am one of the many Fodorites who are firmly committed to independent solo travel -- it is, IME, an extraordinary self-indulgence to be able to do exactly what YOU want to do, when YOU want to do it!

You won't be able to stop in as many places as you could on a tour -- but you can actually SEE the places where YOU choose to stop.

So get a good guidebook or two -- or consult some at a library -- and decide on what YOU most want to see / experience.

For some inspiration, you might want to scan some of the trip reports that those of us who travel alone have written:
http://www.fodors.com/community/trav...collection.cfm

Good luck!
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Apr 8th, 2015, 01:28 AM
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I would stop thinking in terms of countries and start thinking in terms of specific destinations. Which areas take your fancy and what type of sights and activities are you after on each region? There is absolutely no reason to spend 2 days in Corfu is your only interest in Greece is Athens for example. The same applies to all countries you mention here.
I see an averrage of around 100 euro/day on most tours mentioned on Contiki. I think this is a good budget to organise a DIY trip and have a more rewarding experience, a better balance of quality vs quantity too.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 01:29 AM
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"There is absolutely no reason to spend 2 days in Corfu IF your only interest in Greece is Athens for example"
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Apr 8th, 2015, 02:10 AM
  #7
 
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I couldn't find much info about Contiki Easy Pay, because you have to register and sign in to get to the page, and I'm not going to do that. Surely, though, they require payment in full before the start of the trip? You could accomplish the same thing by saving your money and putting it in your own bank account.

Also check out http://www.busabout.com , another Australian company. They have a hop-on hop-off option that may be worth considering.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 04:26 AM
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Get aouth railpass and join zillions of other your age in hostels and taking trains - for a lot of great train info to help get a fix on that: www.budgeteuropetravel.com - download their free online EuropeanPlanning & Rail Guide for lots of rail itineraries; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 08:14 AM
  #9
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Thank you all for the replies and advices!
@mariha2912 I'd like to visit Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Munich, Swiss alps, Athens and some greek island, Italia still have to decide which one but probably Santorini.
I definitely dont want to be rushed from one place to another but I'm really scared of getting lost or not being able to ask for help since I only speak english and spanish. Also, isnt it a bit dangerous for a girl to be on her own in Europe? Maybe I'm wrong but I guess it's the fear of being away for almost a month in a completely different place
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Apr 8th, 2015, 08:16 AM
  #10
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Im sorry, I meant to say I* still have to decide!
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Apr 8th, 2015, 09:38 AM
  #11
 
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People on the tourism industry speak English and often many other laguages. People on places that deal with lots of international visitors usually speak English too. Most people on the countires you mention speak English as a second or third language, especially the younger generation. When people do not speak English, a smile and body language go a long way to communicate.
Thousands of young women travel solo in Europe, (including me lol). If you do your research before hand and use common sense, it is not dangerous at all. Do not drink till you drop, do not walk on dark alleys at night, do not flash cash and expensive jewellery or equipment around. Do not accept lifts from strangers. Research before hand for potential scams on each destinations. Know which area is better to avoid on city. Keep you money and passport safe and don't make your self an easy target for pick-pocket. If you have a gut feeling something is wrong, simply move out of the situation. Mainly apply same safety precautions that you would apply at home.
A lot come down to your own personality and what you feel comfortable with of course, but I think traveling solo is often safer than traveling with other people, contrary to what people tend to believe. Reason is that while solo most people stay alert on their surroundings and act on the careful side. When with other people they let their guard down and get distracted by other people and often are influenced by their travel buddies to make stupid decisions, or driven by a faulse sense of security they may act silly.
All that said, remember it does not have to be either been alone all the time either been on a tour for a month. There are tons of oportunities to meet people along the way-and if this is not your thing, this does not have to be staying in a hostel-. You may interact with people while enjoying some amazing vistas or hiking a trail or sitting on a park bench or having a beer in a pub. You meet people joining a half an hour bus or walking tour. And so on...
Or you may pre-arrange something if you wish on some locations. You may join -and use wisely- sites such as travbuddy or couch surfing or travelerspoint that organise official and unofficial meet-ups on destinations. You may join a walking tour for a few hours in a city or a bus tours or boat tour as a day trip. There are projects on various destinations where a local volunteers to guide you in a city or offer you a meal in his own house or whatever. Some universities host or offer tours to students from abroad, usually a student of said university serving as your guide - so chances to meet people your age-. In case you have a specific hobby or proffesion you may contact local clubs and assosiations and require if it is possible to join them on so and so activity, that been a bird-watching club or a goldsmithiths' assosiation.
My advice is to start researching more indepth before making final decisions. The more you research the more things will come into place. Read a guidebook or two and then cross-reference and get ideas of appropriate websites. Get more specific ideas on what you'd like to see and do on each destination, get hold of the travel logistics, start learning more about costs involved, local transport system,local culture and mentality, trivia you may have not though of, check how things work on each area.
I am sure many worries you have will disappear and many questions answered. Then come back in the forum and tell us what you think : )
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Apr 8th, 2015, 09:58 AM
  #12
 
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Let me give you some general principles that may help with your planning.

1. Count nights, not days for each place you visit. It helps make it obvious when you don't have enough time in a place. If you want two days of sightseeing in a place, it means you have to say three nights. One night somewhere is just that - one night - no real time for sightseeing or exploring.

2. The more often you change locations, that less time you have for sightseeing, exploring, experiencing a place. You have to figure your transit time from the time you check out of your lodgings in one place until you check in at the next. This means that each time you change locations, you lose much of a day in transit.

3. The more locations you visit, the more costly your trip will be. If you are traveling on a budget, you are better off choosing a few places to visit and spend more time exploring those few.

Your last listing of where you wanted to go "Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Munich, Swiss alps, Athens and some greek island, Italia " includes 12 places. In 17-22 days, you wouldn't even have a full day to explore in each place. If what you want out of this trip is to see the inside of lots of trains, buses, stations, then you might as well go on a tour like Contiki which will give you almost no time to see the places you want to visit be does cover a lot of territory. If you want to experience a little bit of Europe, then choose the maybe 5 places that appeal to you most and organize your trip around these. You won't have a lot of time in each place, but you will have enough time to know you have been there.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 10:34 AM
  #13
 
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Both Mariha and Kathie have good advice.

To Mariha's I'd add "don't accept food or drink from strangers, and don't let your drink out of your sight unless it's empty. I also encourage you to try independent travel, as it will give you the chance to go where you want to go, eat where you want to eat, and stay as long--or as briefly--as you like in each place. Many people do solo travel, men and women, and it works out for them. One big advantage of solo travel for someone who is single is that you are much more likely to meet other people. I've taken two largely solo trips to Peru and have met lots of people, while travelling with my spouse I have only met a few.

Based on your last itinerary, I'd do some research on Paris, England and Scotland, to see what they have and how much time you'd need in each. Those would seem to make a fairly compact trip and you could see a good bit without spending all your time in travel. You

I'd also plan for some time in the country--or at least smaller cities-- in all three. For example, in Scotland, you can take a Rabbie's day trip from either Glasgow or Edinburgh, from London and Paris there are many day trips by train, etc. European cities are wonderful, but the country and smaller cities in Europe are equally if not more special.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 08:14 PM
  #14
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@mariha2912 @Kathie @dwdvagamundo Thanks a lot for taking the time to write such kind and helpful replies! I'll do some research and definitely plan my own trip.
My original plan was to spend 2 weeks travelling through Italy (I have always wanted to travel there) but I thought that it would be a shame to stay in Europe and not go to some other places. I also really want to travel to Liverpool because I'm a huge Beatles fan and there's much to do there and, of course, I can't go to Liverpool without going to London. Since England is close to France, I thought I could visit Paris too, and so on..
The main reason I want to go to many places is that Europe is very far from where I live and also it's very expensive to go there. South american economy in general is going down, and my country charges you 35% for international purchases so that's really a lot of money which is not easy to earn.
Now I'm determined to save money and travel there but I don't know if I'll be able to do it again in the near future and I don't want to miss the opportunity to visit some places. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer quality over quantity but I don't know how to get a good balance. I'll start to read some information and plan the trip, also I'll see if I can spend one month instead of three weeks. A friend of mine went to Europe about 2 years ago and in several countries he found free guided tours, does someone know if this still exists? Is there something else I should consider? Thanks again!
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Apr 8th, 2015, 10:11 PM
  #15
kja
 
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I understand the desire to cram everything in if at all possible -- but I do NOT recommend it! Rather than trying to cram everything in, I seek to maximize the time I have to actually see and experience the places that I choose to see, while minimizing the time spent traveling between places. I've discovered that I, personally, prefer to skip some places entirely, even if I am sure I would enjoy them. YMMV.

I recommend that you get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, note their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together. gain, I think you would do well to plot your priorities on a calendar.
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Apr 9th, 2015, 08:18 AM
  #16
 
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I'm a bit scared of going alone so I was thinking of a tour.. Contiki Tours ( http://www.contiki.com/destinations/europe/tours ) seemed a great idea but I have read some disappointing reviews on here.>

Pretty much ignore any reviews of Contiki Tours on this forum - folks are 1- anti any group tour and 2 - mainly older folk who know nearly nothing about Contiki Tours - do more research on them - I too eschew group tours but I have seen many Contiki Tours in Contiki Villages in campgrounds and many seem to be having fun - one big thing is that most of the tours I have seen are nearly all female so if a male that may be great - a female not so great.

Really do not judge Contiki by comments on this forum - do more research before crossing them off just because of takes given here.

That said I'd reiterate that on-your-own travel in Europe is easy and safe - get a youth railpass - you will meet many folks you age on trains - and stay in youth hostels and youth hotels and meet many your age too - my first onmy own trip to Europe it was experiences on trains and in hostels that I enjoyed as much as the mega touristic sites.

And yes get a Let's Go Europe guidebook to take along - great info on hostels and youth hotels, nightlife, etc.
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Apr 9th, 2015, 01:44 PM
  #17
 
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"My original plan was to spend 2 weeks travelling through Italy (I have always wanted to travel there) but I thought that it would be a shame to stay in Europe and not go to some other places."

I think your original plan was better. We've been to most countries in Europe, and Italy is the one you should go to first. There are so many interesting places to see--great food, wine, art, architecture, scenery, etc.

With two weeks, you could see a good bit of it; we've spent a total of ten weeks in Italy over the years and could easily spent another couple of months.
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Apr 9th, 2015, 02:55 PM
  #18
 
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We've been to most countries in Europe, and Italy is the one you should go to first.>

A very subjective take for what reasons - don't other places also have those attributes - this guy is from Argentina - he may well want to visit Spain over Italy if he had to chose OTOH he may well be of Italian descent from Argentina too!

One thing aginst Italy in summer - July and August if he is traveling then is Rome, Florence and even Venice can be hot as heck and mosquitoes can be a problem too -avg hi in Florence in July about 93 F I think - so it depends on the time of year - which may be noted somewhere above.

But to say to someone you 'should put this first' is very subjective. When I was his age and took my first trip to Europe Paris and France was my first goal since I had studied French and London and Britain was next and I was also keen on Italy too but not as much as France or Britain.

Summers in Italy also see huge crowds in sweltering cities - Rome, Florence and Venice especially totally packed - elbow to elbow on themain gauntlets of Venice.

Lots of factors of which country or regions you 'should' put first. Folks of German ancestry - also some of those in Argentina! - mauy put Germany first, etc.
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Apr 9th, 2015, 05:02 PM
  #19
 
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Have not read all of the threads - and IMHO you are trying to see way too many places in too little time.

But I think funds will be your major issue. NO ONE is going to let you visit europe and pay them for it afterward. Either you fund it yourself (savings or credit cards) or you pay for a tour IN ADVANCE. I think you will find the payment plan is for all payments to be complete BEFORE the trip - not after. Just a way of getting you committed and putting down a substantial amount so you continue to make all of the payments before departure instead of changing your mind.
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Apr 9th, 2015, 05:50 PM
  #20
 
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TOO MUCH !! Too Much !!

You really need to narrow this down for your own health! You will kill yourself if you attempt to do this. And end up going home exhausted and unhappy because you didn't really see anything afterall. It'll all be a big blurr out of a train window or bus window or airplane window.

Please narrow it down to a reasonable itinerary where you at least have a decent amount of time in 3 or 4 places.
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